Do you ever wake up and have a stiff neck, and wonder why does my neck feel locked up, sore, and stiff? Have you ever sustained a whiplash injury such as a car accident, and wonder why my neck is so sore? Why can’t I turn my head? At Prairie Spine & Pain Institute, we see these complaints every day. These symptoms are often related to the musculature in the neck that often goes untreated.
Understanding the function of muscle tissue helps us answer the previous questions. Muscles allow movement. Muscles use contraction and relaxation to move the bones they are attached to. So when a muscle is in constant contraction, or spasm, that range of motion or ability to move is decreased. The stiffness, hardness, and pain are caused by the constant contraction.
Muscle spasms are uncontrollable contractions of muscle tissue in the neck. They can feel tight, hard, and stiff. Sometimes there can be associated tender areas that cause radiating pain to other areas in the neck or head known as trigger points. Muscle spasms in the neck can also cause headaches. The symptoms of muscle spasm if not treated can be debilitating.
Treatment is focused on conservative measures. The goal is to calm down the inflammation and spasm that is causing the neck pain and headaches. Physical therapy is utilized. Stretching helps to loosen the musculature and improve range of motion. Manual therapy including massage can also help alleviate pain and spasm. Trigger point injections are utilized often to introduce local anesthetic into the specific spots that cause radiating pain. Trigger point injections are commonly used early on to reduce the pain so the patient can advance with the rehab measures with limited pain. Heat and ice are commonly used to reduce the inflammation. The medications that are commonly prescribed are muscle relaxers and NSAIDs. Muscle relaxers will help alleviate the tension of the constant involuntary spasms. NSAIDs or anti-inflammatories are medications that reduce inflammation as well as reduce pain. The biggest mistake patients often make is doing nothing. However this happens quite often. Getting your neck moving again might hurt, but it will substantially improve your recovery time. If you have muscle spasm, come see us at Prairie Spine & Pain Institute.
About The Author: Derek N. Morrow, PA-C is a physician assistant with Prairie Spine and Pain Institute. Derek works in the clinic setting as a health care provider seeing patients. He is also utilized in the operating room as a first assist in surgery. In the clinic setting, his key function is to diagnose new patients and conduct their initial treatment. He works directly with patients to establish customized treatment programs and to monitor their progress. He also conducts history and physical evaluations for many patients. He performs many office procedures including trigger point injections, large joint injections, and bursa injections, all with the help of ultrasound guidance. He is radiologically trained, and uses his knowledge of X-ray, Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and EMG-Nerve Conduction Studies to establish a diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment. Derek is surgically trained and plays a vital role in the procedures we perform at Prairie Spine and Pain Institute.